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What is NYU Reads?

NYU Reads brings the NYU community together around a single common reading, chosen by a University committee made up of faculty, student, and administrator representatives. Building on our undergraduate schools’ first-year reading programs, NYU Reads extends this dialogue beyond Welcome Week and opens it up to the entire University community.

Fall 2020: Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson book cover, Spiegel and Grau 2014. Due to the University-wide interest in addressing racism and social justice and participating in a collective reading program that may pave the way to dialog and action, the Fall 2020 book for NYU Reads has been selected as Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson (2014).

Stevenson is a professor of criminal justice at NYU School of Law and the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). The memoir is both an account of his work with the EJI and a testament to the urgent need to challenge racial and economic injustice and to protect basic human rights for the most vulnerable members of society.

In the words of NYU Journalism Professor Ted Conover, writing for the New York Times Book Review, “The message of this book, hammered home by dramatic examples of one man’s refusal to sit quietly and countenance horror, is that evil can be overcome, a difference can be made.” (The New York Times Book Review of Just Mercy is available through NYU Library databases.)

Get a digital copy of Just Mercy via NYU Libraries

Spring 2021 Preview: Exit West, by Mohsin Hamid

Selected for Spring 2021, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid tells the story of a young couple, Nadia and Saeed, whose escape from their war-ravaged city turns into a global odyssey thanks to a series of secret portals that whisk them away to unknown destinations.

Trigger Warnings

Just Mercy and Exit West are thoroughly engaging books; they may, however, hit close to home for several readers. Just Mercy includes accounts of racism, racial injustice, violence against Black people, capital punishment, and violent crimes. Exit West contains a few descriptions of wartime violence in Nadia and Saeed’s home country.

If you need emotional support while reading, or if you have concerns about reading a book in which such experiences are depicted, professional counselors are available to talk 24/7 through the Wellness Exchange hotline at 212-443-9999 or to chat through the Wellness Exchange app (available in the Apple App Store or Google Play).

When to Read the Books

Events and discussions will be taking place in the fall and spring semester, respectively. We recommend taking time this summer to read Just Mercy, before your school’s orientation. Similarly, you should plan to read Exit West over winter break, before the start of the spring semester.


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